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Denton, William (1823-1883)

Denton, William (1823-1883)

William Denton was born in Darlington, England in January of 1823. A professor of geology in Boston who became famous for his research in psychometry, begun for the purpose of controlling Joseph Rhodes Buchanan 's experiments. His sister, Anna Denton Cridge, developed the gift of giving descriptions of character, surroundings, and personal appearanceto the color of the hair and eyesof the writers of letters she held in her hand.

Denton applied this mysterious ability to geology and found that the history of geological specimens passed before the gaze of the seer like a grand panoramic view. Cridge's vision was sometimes rapid, like lightning; sometimes it could be easily followed. All sources of error apparently were carefully excluded. From thousands of experiments conducted from 1853 until his death in 1883, Denton concluded that the existence of psychometric ability is unquestionable.

From a fragment of lava from Kilauea, Hawaii (the sensitive had no idea of the origin and nature), the following picture was sensed:

"I see the ocean and ships are sailing on it. This must be an island, for water is all around. Now I am turned from where I saw the vessels, and am looking at something most terrific. It seems as if an ocean of fire were pouring over a precipice, and boiling as it pours. The sight permeates my whole being, and inspires me with terror. I see it flow into the ocean and the water boils intensely."

A pebble of a limestone, with glacial scratches on its surface, was given to Cridge. She said:

"I feel as if I were below an immense body of waterso deep that I cannot see down through it, and yet it seems that I could see upward through it for miles. Now I am going, going, and there is something above and around me. It must be ice; I am frozen in it. The motion of the mass I am in is not uniform; it pitches forward then halts and pitches again, then goes grinding, pressing and rushing alonga mountain mass.

Fossils and minerals also brought forth lengthy descriptions. In Nature's Secrets (1863), Denton states, "From the first dawn of light upon this infant globe, when round its cradle the stormy curtains hung, Nature has been photographing every moment. What a picture gallery is hers!" A further exposition of his psychometric studies is given in The Soul of Things (1863) and in Our Planet, Its Past and Future (1869).

Denton was also concerned with psychical research, and in 1875 in Boston, working with the medium Mary M. Hardy, he produced what was said to be the impression of a spirit face in paraffin wax. This experiment anticipated the later researches of Gustav Geley and Charles Richet with the medium Franek Kluski.

Denton died in New Guinea on a speaking tour in 1883.


Denton, William. Our Planet, Its Past and Future; or, Lectures on Geology. Wellesley, MA: Denton Publishing, 1868.

. The Soul of Things: Psychometric Experiments for Reliving History. 1863. Reprint, Wellingborough, Northampton, England: Aquarian Press, 1988.

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